Neenah Autos Classes Brings Old Technology Back to Life 


Garrett Luepke, Student of Journalism

Neenah auto classes tackle the reassembly of a 1968 Autobianchi Bianchina, gifted by Neenah company Motion Products Inc., known worldwide for Italian car restoration and “all things Ferrari.”

“I am excited about this opportunity where kids will be able to work hands-on with an older and simple car instead of the normal complex cars of today in the shop,” autos teacher Mr. Anthony Lang said. 

Although this is not a typical grandparent’s 20-year car restoration in the corner, this is one of a kind and has an interesting story. Background from Classic Trader asserts, the Italian car manufacturer Autobianchi was created from the ambitions of a bicycle and motorized three-wheeler manufacturer Eduardo Bianchi. A man with a small voice but substantial intention who asked mainstream car manufacturer Fiat, as well as Pirelli, a tire manufacturer to partner up and form a luxurious microcar manufacturing company under the name of Autobianchi. 

According to the heavily educated Audrain Auto Museum in 1957, a 4-speed manual, 499cc motor creating 18 horsepower was used to power this Fiat 500 inspired 1,250 lb microcar. How small is micro? The Bianchina specifically was 9.9 ft long, 4.4 ft wide and just 4.3 ft tall, unexpectedly creating a notably comfortable two-person vehicle. 

After producing around 275,000 of the “world’s finest micro-cars”, in 1970 Bianchina production ended. Although other models were released after this, in 1996 the entire Autobianchi brand was terminated.

During the summer months, senior Matthew Grenel along with two Neenah alumni, Eli Goethel and Boden Waldoch employed at MPI was put in charge of disassembly and restoration of parts from the Bianchina. 

Most may view this as quite a challenging task for three teenagers; however, Grenel claims, “Through my experiences in taking Neenah automotive classes I became a respected employee at MPI and was able to confidently take on this project and responsibility.”

Nonetheless, a special opportunity for students to take part in, this is not a normal project taken on by the automotive classes simply because of the initial buy-in cost. Fortunately, MPI has generously gifted the car to the Neenah autos classes. 

After completion, the car will have a value of $50,000-80,000. NHS’s current plans of what to do with the gem are not exactly written in stone, but one thing is for sure, it will be fully operating and able to be driven in parades, car shows, etc. 

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